Reflections on Kara Walker’s “a Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby”

A recent installation of Kara Walker’s “a Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby” prompted anthropologist Elizabeth Chin to approach Anthropology Now with a powerful idea for commentary. With the former Domino Sugar Refinery as the exhibit space and evocations of Sidney Mintz’s Sweetness and Power as one of many shared points of reference, we invited […]

Culture Brokering and Disaster Recovery

An October opinion piece in the Coloradoan by Kate Browne, an anthropologist whose work includes disaster recovery research and a broadcast documentary on the aftermath of Katrina, prompted Anthropology Now to post a call for commentary on the Anthropology and Environment Society listserv. We sought short, opinion page-style essays on whether culture brokers can indeed contribute to a paradigm […]

Presumed Innocent: On Bill Traylor’s Verve

Something was definitely stirring deep within William “Bill” Traylor. In a span of four years, he expunged a lot of it, producing 1200 drawings and paintings with graphite pencil stubs and poster paint on discarded cardboard. Traylor bears the surname of the proprietor of the plantation in Dallas County, Alabama, where he was born into […]

A Challenge for Visual Journalism: Rendering The Labor Behind News Images Visible

The Chicago Sun-Times’ decision to shut down its photography department to satisfy audiences “consistently seeking more video content with their news” is sad but not surprising. As an anthropologist who studies the changing culture of photojournalism and the rise of the visual content industry, the newspaper’s turn towards multimedia and video on the one hand […]

The Dark Side of DIY in Photojournalism and Photographic Ethnography

Though DIY (do-it-yourself) is generally celebrated as empowering and democratizing, the recent layoff of the entire photojournalism staff at the Chicago Sun-Times is a potent indicator of the dark side of this popular ethos. The elimination of skilled, full-time jobs in favor of part-time, freelance, and unpaid labor is a familiar post-industrial pattern. In this […]